Observations and advice
Students enjoy taking ownership of the online discussion and the TAA. There are many potential “right” answers and students revel in learning from each other as they share their thoughts on how they bridge the divide between theory and everyday life. Students take pride in the development of their ideas and enjoy when their colleagues or myself remark upon their themes or online discussion comments in class.
I’ve learned the less structured the discussion, the more students appear to seriously consider their responses. Some of the most vibrant discussions have prompts such as, “In our readings for pages 53 through 68, what is the quote that stands out to you and why?” Which is followed up by, “And now tell us where you see this quote in everyday life.” The creativeness of their responses is phenomenal and their enthusiasm is enjoyable to see.
Further reading Research on elements to consider for effective online discussions
Kingsley, P. (2011). The Socratic dialogue in asynchronous online discussions: Is constructivism redundant? Campus-Wide Information Systems, 28(5), 320-330.
Moon-Heum, C., & Tobias, S. (2016). Should instructors require discussion in online courses? Effects of online discussion on community of inquiry, learner time, satisfaction, and achievement. International Review of Research in Open and Distribute Learning, 17(2), 123-140.
Moore, J. L., & Marra, R. M. (2005). A comparative analysis of online discussion participation protocols. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(2), 191-212.
Perkins, C., & Murphy, E. (2006). Identifying and measuring individual engagement in critical thinking in online discussions: An exploratory case study. Educational Technology & Society, 9(1), 298-307.
Santiago, R., Leh, A., & Nakayama, M. (2012). Design and redesign of online discussion: Comparison of lessons learned. Proceedings from European Conference on e-Learning, Kidmore End, 497-504.
Vlachopoulos, P., & Cowan, J. (2010). Choices of approaches in e-moderation: Conclusions from a grounded theory student. Active Learning in Higher Education, 11(3), 213-224.
Research on social constructivist theory
Murphy, K. L., Mahoney, S. E., Chen, C., Mendoza-Diaz, N. V., & Yang, X. (2005). A constructivist model of mentoring, coaching, and facilitating online discussions. Distance Education, 26(3), 341-366.
Schellens, T., & Valcke, M. (2005). Collaborative learning in asynchronous discussion groups: What about the impact on cognitive processing? Computers in Human Behavior, 21(6), 957-975.
Research on critical thinking skills
Havard, B., Du, J., & Olinzock, A. (2005). Deep learning: The knowledge, methods, and cognition process in instructor-led online discussion. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 6(2), 125-135.
Hsiao, W., Chen, M., & Hu, H. (2013). Assessing online discussions: Adoption of critical thinking as a grading criterion. International Journal of Technology, Knowledge & Society, 9, 15-25.
Research on the TAA
Stearns, S.A. (forthcoming). Student responsible learning: Getting students to read online discussions. Manuscript submitted for publication.